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2010 Conference Speakers



Sunday, June 13



Mayor Dennis Walaker

Mayor Dennis Walaker The current mayor of Fargo is Dennis Walaker. Voters elected him to a four-year term in June 2006. This is Mr. Walaker's first term as mayor. Mayor Walaker is a Fargo native who graduated from Leonard High School (Cass County) in 1959 and attended North Dakota State University.


Mr. Walaker began his career in 1962 with the North Dakota Department of Transportation, where he was involved in the construction of Interstates 94 and 29. He also worked on several City of Fargo projects, including the conversion of University Drive and 10th Street into one-way streets.


The City of Fargo hired Mr. Walaker in 1974 as a civil engineer responsible for supervising public works projects. In 1989, he became the City's Public Works Operations Manager. A few years later, this position was expanded to include forestry, fleet management and emergency management responsibilities; the position title became Director of Operations. Mr. Walaker served in that position until his resignation in May 2006 to enter the political arena.


The Mayor's current activities include serving on the Board of Directors of the Red River Zoo, Plains Art Museum and NDSU Team Makers. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, the American Water Works Association, the Water Pollution Control Federation, the American Legion, the Sons of Norway, and the FM Symphony. His past board memberships include Hospice of the Red River Valley and United Way of Cass Clay.


Mr. Walaker and his wife, Mary, (a retired teacher) have two adult children and two grandsons.


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Steve Stark

Steve Stark Steve Stark is an award-winning editorial cartoonist and writer. He offers his unique Illustrated History programs on many subjects that combine art, presentation and the study of our American heritage.


He is also a presenter with his historical portrayal of President Theodore Roosevelt. He has appeared in 15 states, Washington DC, Manitoba, Canada, and the History Channel and History Channel International with his portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt.


Steve lives in Fargo and has been giving illustrated history presentations to organizations and schools in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo for over a decade. Thousands of kids in the Red River Valley know him as "Mr. History".


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Monday, June 14



U.S. Rep Collin C. Peterson

US Rep Collin Peterson

Collin Peterson was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota in 1990. His primarily rural and agricultural district reaches from the Canadian border in the north, almost to the Iowa state line in the south; along Minnesota’s border with North and South Dakota. Peterson is Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over a wide range of agriculture and rural development issues, including the Farm Bill, renewable energy, disaster assistance, nutrition, crop insurance, conservation, rural development, international trade, futures market regulation, animal and plant health, agricultural research, bioterrorism, forestry, and others.


Congressman Peterson grew up on a farm near Glyndon, Minnesota and was educated in the local public schools. He graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in 1966 with a double major in Business Administration and Accounting, and also served in the North Dakota National Guard from 1963 to 1969. Before being elected to the House of Representatives, he was a Certified Public Accountant and small business owner in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and also served for ten years in the Minnesota State Senate.


In the 1960’s, Peterson also found time to play guitar and sing with a band known as “Collin and the Establishment.” He is a musician, and in recent years he has performed with Willie Nelson at Farm Aid concerts, jazz legend Lonnie Brooks, with several other Members of Congress at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and with rock guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter at several Washington, D.C. venues. He is a member of the American Legion’s Ninth District Band.


Peterson has organized and played in Congressional rock bands, including The Amendments and the Second Amendments. He and his colleagues have performed at charity events in Washington DC. The Second Amendments also performed for U.S. troops in Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and performed at WE Fest in Minnesota and Farm Aid in Illinois.


Peterson is a private pilot who often flies his own single-engine plane to get around his large district and visit with his constituency. He also is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing whenever time permits.


During his public service career, Peterson has been a strong advocate for farmers and small business owners, and a leader on both federal tax policy and conservation issues. He has been a leader on the last three Farm Bills passed by Congress. He is a founding member of the conservative Democrats’ “Blue Dog” Coalition, which continues to be a voice for fiscal responsibility and pragmatic government policies. He was named the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture in January 2005 and Chairman in January 2007.


Peterson has taken a leading role in Congress promoting biofuels as a homegrown way for America to meet its growing energy needs, and he has introduced legislation to expand biofuel production and use. Peterson’s leadership led to the successful passage of the 2008 Farm Bill, which preserved the safety net for farmers while making historic new investments in food, farm and conservation programs that are priorities for all Americans.


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Dr. Danny A.Klinefelter

Danny KlinefelterProfessor and Extension Economist with Texas AgriLife Extension, specializing in agricultural finance and management development. He is the director of The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP) and co-director of the Texas A&M Family and Owner-Managed Business. In addition, he serves as the Executive Secretary for the Association of Agricultural Production Executives (AAPEX). He is also coordinator of the Planning the Return to the Farm/Ranch Program. He is a member of the board of Ag Texas Farm Credit Services and President of his family’s Illinois farm corporation.


Danny received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois in 1979, where he was a National Science Foundation Research Fellow. Prior to his graduate work, he spent five years in commercial lending, credit analysis, and farm management with the Marine Bank of Springfield, Illinois. In addition to his Ph.D., he also received his M.S. from the University of Illinois in 1971. He graduated summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. in 1969.


Prior to returning to Texas A&M, he was Vice President and Coordinator of Field Operations for the Farm Credit Capital Corporation in the Fifth Farm Credit District. He had previously served as Director of Marketing, Financially Related Services and Training and Development for the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank (FICB) of Jackson. Before his employment at the FICB in June of 1982, he had been an assistant professor of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M. He has three times been selected as the outstanding teacher in the Department of Agricultural Economics. He has been a member of the National Farm Financial Standards Council and served on the faculties of the American Bankers Association’s Graduate School of Agricultural Finance and Banking, the Graduate School of Banking at Boulder, Colorado, the Ferguson Agri-Management Institute, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governor’s Senior Lending Seminar. He also served as the Executive Director of Tenth District Federation of Production Credit Associations from 1993-96.


He is a member of the American Agricultural Economics Association, the International Association of Agribusiness Management, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Zeta and Gamma Sigma Delta. He received the American Agricultural Economics Association’s Quality of Published Communication Award in 1987, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service’s Superior Service Award in both 1988 and 1992, the Vice Chancellors’ Award in Excellence in 1997 and 2001, and the Texas A&M University Association of Former Students Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1998 and 2002. He received the Southern Agricultural Economics Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and was selected as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Honor Professor in 2006. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, Who’s Who in the American South and Southwest, and Who’s Who in the World. In 2009, the 25th anniversary issue of Top Producer magazine named him one of the 25 people in the world who would have the most influence on the future of American agriculture.


In addition to his academic and banking experience, Danny has authored or co-authored numerous professional articles and publications. He is also co-author of seven books: Agricultural Financial Reporting and Analysis, Coordinated Financial Statements for Agriculture, Financial Decisions: A Survival Handbook for Farmers (Agri Finance Publications), Farm Investment and Financial Analysis (Prentice-Hall), Agriculture in the 21st Century, Modern Farm Management, and Planning and Positioning Your Business (Dupont).


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Leon F. Osborne, Jr.

Leon F. Osborne, Jr.Mr. Osborne is the President/CEO and co-founder of Meridian Environmental Technology, Inc. He has over 30 years of atmospheric science experience in academia, research and industry. Since 1979, Mr. Osborne has served as a faculty member of the University of North Dakota (UND) Department of Atmospheric Sciences where he is a tenured faculty member, a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, and Director of the UND Regional Weather Information Center. He has been actively involved in weather research and technology transfer that applies weather technology to solve everyday problems, including a focus on the effects of weather on hydrological, agriculture and transportation systems. His areas of expertise include numerical weather prediction, synoptic and dynamic meteorology, and the adaptation of advanced spatial technologies in decision support systems. He was the 1995 recipient of the National Governor’s Association Award for Outstanding Service to State Government. In 1996, he was appointed by Governor Ed Schafer as North Dakota’s representative to the Science and Technology Council of the States. For the past decade Mr. Osborne has lead Meridian Environmental Technology to become one of the premier applied and research technology companies involving advanced weather and information technology solutions.


Mr. Osborne is a member or past member of numerous national boards and committees, including the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Surface Transportation Weather, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Intelligent Transportation System and Surface Transportation Committee, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) 511 Working Group, the Rural Geospatial Innovations (RGIS) Coordinating Council, and the ITSA Weather Special Interest Group. In addition, Mr. Osborne is a member of several professional associations and societies, including the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Water Resources Association, Sigma Xi, and the Institute of Transportation Engineers. He is also a member of the honor societies of Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics), Chi Epsilon Pi (Meteorology), and Epsilon Pi Tau (Technology).


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Otto C. Doering III

Otto Doering, IIIOtto is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University where he has teaching, research and engagement responsibilities. He is a public policy specialist and has served the U.S. Department of Agriculture working on the 1977 and 1990 Farm Bills. In 1997, he was a Principal Adviser to USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service for implementing the 1996 Farm Bill and worked again in 2005 with NRCS on the design and implementation of conservation programs. In 1999, he was team leader for the economic analysis of the White House’s National Hypoxia Assessment focused on the Gulf of Mexico.


Dr. Doering has been President of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and Chair of the National Public Policy Education Committee. He writes on agricultural policy, resource conservation, water, energy, and climate change. He serves on EPA’s Science Advisory Board and Chairs EPA’s Integrated Nitrogen Committee. He is a member of the National Academies’ Water Science and Technology Board and serves on NAS committees advising on protecting and restoring water quality in the Mississippi River. He has served with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and currently directs Purdue’s Climate Change Research Center. Dr. Doering received a B.A. in Government from Cornell, a M.Sc. (Econ) from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural economics from Cornell. In earlier incarnations he has been a legal investigator and a horse wrangler.


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Terry W. Knoepfle, J.D., CPA

Terry Knoepfle Terry W. Knoepfle, J.D., CPA, is an Associate Professor in the College of Business at North Dakota State University, where he has taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in business law and taxation since 1989.


While at NDSU, Dr. Knoepfle has received several awards and honors for his work including the national Ralph Hoeber Business Law Research Award and the Outstanding Educator Award from the North Dakota Society of Certified Public Accountants (NDSCPA). Also, he has received the NDSU Mortar Board Preferred Professor and Outstanding Advisor Awards, and the College of Business Teacher of the Year, Preferred Accounting Professor, Advisor of the Year, and Outstanding Service Awards. In 2007, in recognition of Dr. Knoepfle’s leadership record, he was elected President of the NDSCPA Board of Directors and to the national governing Council of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


Dr. Knoepfle’s areas of research include legal and taxation issues regarding business and nonprofit organizations, trusts/estates, Medicaid transfers and liens, and agricultural producers. His broad-based research has been published in numerous law and accounting journals including the American Business Law Journal, Midwest Law Review, The Tax Advisor, The CPA Journal, Journal of Legal Studies Education, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, and Oil and Gas Tax Quarterly. Dr. Knoepfle also has been consulted by academics and professionals across the region and country on various issues related to his research. Currently, he serves on the MMF Department’s Promotion, Tenure, Evaluation Committee and the NDSU Grade Appeals Board.


During most of his years at NDSU, Dr. Knoepfle also has worked with a leading CPA review firm, Conviser Duffy (now Becker CPA Review), as a presenter on the business law/taxation area. During that time, he successfully enabled many college students and graduates to pass the CPA exam, including several top scorers. In addition, the NDSU pass rates at that time on this area of the CPA exam were considerably higher than both the North Dakota and national averages, as well as higher than the pass rates of the other major universities in the region.


In the business community, Dr. Knoepfle has a long history of involvement including frequent invited presentations and publications on tax and estate law for professional groups (including attorneys and CPAs), the Internal Revenue Service, and the NDSU Extension Service. An active member of his profession and the community, his past leadership roles include President and Director of the Red River Valley Estate Planning Council, Secretary/Treasurer of the Cass County Bar Association, and officer and director positions on the boards of several local and regional nonprofit corporations.


Dr. Knoepfle has extensive consultative and professional experience on complex legal and tax matters. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, as well as an attorney licensed to practice before the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Tax Court. Prior to academia, Dr. Knoepfle was a Vice President and Trust Counsel for a large regional trust institution and practiced law in the areas of taxation and trusts/estates law.


A native of North Dakota, Dr. Knoepfle was born in Bottineau and raised on a small, family farm near Gardena. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, reading, and relaxing (working) on the family farm.


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Audrey C. Lahlum (Family Program speaker)

Audrey C. Lahlum

Audrey Holte was born and raised on a small family farm in McHenry County. She attended school in Bergen Special #55 and attended a country church, Hjerdal, near Voltaire.


Audrey attended Minot State Teachers College for one year, following her graduation from Bergen High School. She received a certificate that allowed her to teach in a one room school. Following that year of teaching, she enrolled at North Dakota Agriculture College and majored in Home Economics Education. Upon graduation, she was employed by the North Dakota Extension Service as a Home Agent in Well County.


She married Howard Lahlum, County Agent of Benson County. They lived in Minnewaukan for several years before moving to Fargo where Howard was in the State 4-H Office.


In 1971 the family moved to Marion, in LaMoure County to begin farming. Audrey had been a 4-H Leader in Benson and Cass counties and now organized the Marion Livewires 4-H club for their children and the neighborhood children. Howard joined her in the leadership activities and 4-H became a family affair! Audrey was active on the State level and served as president of the State 4-H Leaders Association.


Audrey has been active in the church activities wherever she has lived. Currently, her church is dedicated to making quilts for whomever and where ever they are needed.


Audrey was a member of the State Farm Bureau Women’s Committee for five years and served as Chairman for three. She also served on the State Farm Bureau Board. She served for several terms on the county women’s committee for LaMoure County.


In 1997, Howard nominated Audrey for the Farm and Ranch Guide’s County Woman of the Year. She won and felt honored and humbled by that experience.


Audrey has kept several of her mother’s aprons and those that others have given her, in addition to those she has sewed in past years. In February of 2008, she volunteered to “do” a program with her Red Hats women at a local nursing home. That was the start of this program. It has changed, grown and been a truly fun and interesting opportunity to meet and share with people from across the state.


Howard and Audrey are the parents of three daughters and a son. They are enjoying their six grandsons and one granddaughter. They are “sort of” retired and continue to live on their farm in LaMoure County. (Back to Family Program page... )


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Tuesday, June 15



Brian Sorenson

Brian SorensonBrian Sorenson became the Director of the Northern Crops Institute on January 1, 2008 after serving as NCI’s Technical Director since 2001. He provides direction and oversight for NCI’s efforts to promote the crops grown in the north-central U.S. States of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Montana through educational programs and technical services.


The NCI provides programming for key crops produced in the region, including hard red spring wheat, durum wheat, soybeans, corn, canola, flax, peas, lentils, barley, oats, sunflowers, edible beans, and others.


Brian has taken part in U.S. Wheat Associates crop quality seminars in Asia, North Africa and Europe since 2001, representing Durum and Hard Red Spring wheat.


Brian was raised on a farm near Fisher, Minnesota in the Red River Valley. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Mayville State University in 1986 and a Master of Science degree in Cereal Chemistry from North Dakota State University in 1989. Brian worked for Purina Mills, in St. Louis, Missouri as a product development researcher until joining the North Dakota State University Extension service in December 2000 and the Northern Crops Institute in December 2001.


Brian and his wife, Catherine, have three children: Matthew, Blake and Wendy.


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Larry Reynolds

Larry ReynoldsDr. Reynolds was born on May 31, 1953 in Winslow, AZ. His family has been in the western U.S., including the Arizona-New Mexico area, for more than 150 years, comprising ranchers, miners, suppliers, and restaurateurs. His forebears were the original owners of the Spring Ranch, near Fort Stanton, NM, of Lincoln County War (Billy


Dr. Reynolds received his B.S. in zoology in 1977 and an M.S. in reproductive physiology in 1980, both from Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. in reproductive physiology in 1983 from Iowa State University, and was a postdoctoral fellow in fetal nutrition/physiology at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USDA-ARS) from 1983 to 1985. Dr. Reynolds then joined the faculty of North Dakota State University (NDSU), where he currently is University Distinguished Professor of Physiology (Animal Science). Dr. Reynolds also was Founding Director of the CENTER FOR NUTRITION AND PREGNANCY (, where he still participates as a faculty member. Dr. Reynolds serves as a faculty mentor for more than ten junior faculty members throughout the North Dakota University system.


Dr. Reynolds' research focuses on the mechanisms regulating placental vascular development (angiogenesis) and its relationship to fetal and offspring growth and development. His research career has extended over 3 decades, and he is widely recognized as one of the world's leading placental physiologists. In addition, throughout his research career, Dr. Reynolds has made important contributions to our understanding of the effects of nutrition during pregnancy on fetal and placental growth and development. These accomplishments are summarized in several recent invited reviews (see Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications, below).


The long-term goal of Dr. Reynolds’ research efforts is to provide an optimal uterine environment to ensure maternal, fetal, and postnatal health in humans and livestock. Currently his research is focused in 3 areas: (1) Further characterizing placental vascular growth at the light and electron microscopy levels, with the goal of developing robust mathematical and physical models describing the changes in placental vascular architecture in normal and compromised pregnancies; (2) Evaluating placental growth and vascular development of in vitro produced embryos, including in vitro fertilized and cloned embryos, with the goal of understanding the basis of altered placental development associated with the high rate of fetal and postnatal morbidity and mortality in these pregnancies; and (3) Investigating the use of modulators of placental vascular growth and function as therapeutic tools in the management of compromised pregnancies, with the goal of minimizing fetal growth restriction and loss. Current collaborators in these efforts include: Dr. Alan Conley at University of California-Davis; Dr. Shireen Hafez at Alexandria University in Egypt; Drs. Greg Lewis and Brett Taylor at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, Dubois, ID; Drs. Guayao Wu, Tom Spencer, and Fuller Bazer at Texas A&M University; and Dr. Jacqueline Wallace at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen in Scotland.


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Dr. Scott Pryor

Dr. Scott PryorDr. Scott Pryor lives in Fargo, ND, where he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at North Dakota State University. He earned a BS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University in 1993 and his PhD (Biological Engineering) from Cornell in 2005. His PhD research focused on fermentation optimization for the production of a biological control agent to inhibit fungal plant pathogens such as those causing Fusarium head blight in wheat.


Before coming to NDSU in 2006, Dr. Pryor worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Cargill working on industrial acid fermentations. Other professional experience includes working as an environmental consulting engineer in St. Paul, MN and teaching secondary school mathematics with the US Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa, for four years.


At NDSU, Dr. Pryor’s work involves the conversion of biomass resources into fuels and other value-added products. His bioenergy-related work focuses on production of ethanol from cellulosic and alternative starch-based crops. Specific substrates that he has worked with include corn, field peas, sugar beet pulp, switchgrass, and various other perennial grasses and forbs. He is also working on projects related to efficacy of commercial cellulase products following acid and alkaline pretreatments. He also works on the extraction of protein from oilseed meals and their conversion to biobased plastics and composites.


Dr. Pryor has developed and is teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Biobased Energy and in Bioprocess Engineering. His Biobased Energy class introduces current issues related to biomass resources, production, and utilization and includes topics such as: corn ethanol, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol via fermentation, thermochemical conversion of biomass for liquid fuels, and anaerobic digestion. He has received a grant with Ohio State University and several other universities to develop and coordinate an online database for instructors to share teaching materials related to bioenergy courses.


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Chad Ulven, Ph.D.

Chad UlvenDr. Ulven received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University (2001) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2003 & 2005).


He has been an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at North Dakota State University since August of 2005. He has been involved in the research of polymer matrix composites (PMCs) for various commercial and defense applications for the past 10 years. He has co-authored 21 journal articles, 4 U.S. Department of Defense technical reports, 2 book chapters, and over 55 conference papers related to PMCs.


His most recent research interests include: biobased PMCs, recycling of PMCs, advanced thermoplastic PMCs, and fire and impact damage in PMCs.


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Rod Sharp

Rod SharpRod Sharp is an agricultural and business management economist with Colorado State University Extension and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He is responsible for


Rod chaired a multi-state effort to study entrepreneurial agriculture and forestry enterprises in the west. He is co-coordinator of the award winning Agricultural and Business Management Team at Colorado State University. Other projects include Risk and Resilience in Agriculture, RightRisk, New Gates Through Old Fences, Standardized Performance Analysis for Sheep and Cattle Producers, and Value Added Toolbox for Agricultural Producers. Rod was raised on a cattle and sheep ranch in northeastern Colorado. He earned Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Colorado State University.


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Wednesday, June 16



Jason Henderson

Jason HendersonJason Henderson joined the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in August 2006 as Branch Executive. In this role, he serves as the Bank’s regional economist and representative in the state of Nebraska, recruits and works closely with the branch’s board of directors and is responsible for briefing the Kansas City Fed’s president – a member of the Federal Open Market Committee – on economic and business activity in the state.


Prior to being promoted into this position, he served as Senior Economist with the Center for the Study of Rural America at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Jason began his second stint at the Bank in 2001 after completing his Ph.D. degree from Purdue University. He has a M.S. degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Central College in Pella, Iowa.


Jason’s research interests focus on regional economic issues, including the rural economy. Jason has published research on innovation, entrepreneurship, land values, the growth of knowledge-based activity in rural America, and the use of electronic commerce in agricultural industries. He is responsible for publication of the Tenth Federal Reserve District’s quarterly survey of agricultural credit conditions.


Jason presents frequently to a wide range of business, financial and policy audiences. His research has been widely cited by policy officials, other researchers, and leading media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, and USA Today. He has also provided expert testimony to a Congressional subcommittee on agricultural credit conditions.


Jason is a native of Arlington, Iowa, where he was raised on a small dairy farm. He is married and has three children.


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Mark Peihl

Mark PeihlMark Peihl received his BA in U.S. History from the University of North Dakota- Grand Forks in 1978.


He was a driver messenger for the Rochester Armored Car Company in Fargo from 1979-86, where he was responsible for daily pick-up and delivery of bank deposits, cash and negotiable securities.


From 1986 to the present, Mark has been the Archivist at the Clay County Historical Society in Moorhead, MN. His duties include research, writing and production of publications, exhibits, and public programs. He is responsible for Historical Society photo and manuscript collections, corporate records, website and public reference services.


Mark has spoken to tens of thousands of school children, members of church and civic groups and the general public on a variety of local history topics.


His hobbies include backpacking, canoeing, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing.


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Thursday, June 15



Bill Hejl

Bill HejlBill was born and raised near Amenia, North Dakota. He is a graduate of Central Cass High School and the United States Air Force Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and Behavioral Science.


He then served almost ten years on active duty in the Air Force starting in North Carolina, where he met and married his wife Gwen. Their next station was Illinois where their two daughters Laura and Carol were born, and finally to Hawaii, where they added their son John to the family.


While in Illinois, Bill supervised software development of the multibillion dollar and multinational Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) system, which uses the Doppler effect to locate aircraft and vessels in distress based on their Emergency Location Transmitter signal. SARSAT saved 75 lives in its first year of operation and lead to development of Global Positioning System, or GPS technology, and was the only cooperative effort between the United States and the Soviet Union at the time.


While stationed at the Headquarters of the Pacific Air Forces in Hawaii, Bill worked on Operational and Contingency plans that remain classified to this day, and staffed the PACAF command post plans desk during the KAL 007 incident.


Bill and his family moved home in 1987 to join the family farm; in 1989 he joined the North Dakota Air National Guard, where he served as a Supply Technician, Services Staff Officer, Security Forces Commander, Installation Inspector General, Chief of Staff, and, Mission Support Group Commander, and an Air Force Admissions Liaison Officer.


He also served as President of the National Guard Association of North Dakota during this time.


He retired from the military in 2007, and finished twelve years of service as the North Dakota Legislative Liaison and President of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and as the first American President of the World Association of Beet and Cane Growers.


Bill, his brother and son, and a partner produce spring wheat, soybeans corn and sugar beets on their farm.


In addition to farming, he also still serves as a board member of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association and as a Manager of the Rush River Water Resource District and Casselton Job Development Authority and was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Crystal Sugar Company in 2007.


Bill was also part of President’s National Rural Policy team during the 2008 campaign.


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Steve Harsh

Steve HarshDr. Stephen Harsh has been on the faculty of Michigan State University for over 40 years, currently as a professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. He completed his graduate studies at Cornell University and undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Harsh teaches courses in management at both the graduate and undergraduate level and has a major outreach component as part of his appointment.Dr. Stephen Harsh has been on the faculty of Michigan State University for over 40 years, currently as a professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. He completed his graduate studies at Cornell University and undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Harsh teaches courses in management at both the graduate and undergraduate level and has a major outreach component as part of his appointment.


Dr. Harsh has conducted research in the areas of energy, information systems for decision support, economics of production agriculture, human resources, and strategic management and has authored nearly 200 articles including several book chapters and a textbook. He has had numerous international assignments including faculty appointments at the University of Naples (Italy) and the University of Giessen (Germany). He has received many honors including the United States Department of Agriculture Superior Service Award, an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, and the Distinguished Faculty Award. Currently, Dr. Harsh is conduction research on renewable energy with a focus on wind energy, geo-thermal, solar, digesters, and energy conservation.


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Shannon L. Ferrell

Shannon FerrellDr. Shannon Ferrell grew up on a cattle and wheat operation in Western Oklahoma, and went to receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University. He then received his juris doctorate from the Oklahoma City University School of Law.


Shannon spent a number of years in private practice, focusing on environmental, energy and corporate law. He served as president of the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council in 2006 and helped establish the Hall Estill firm's Renewable Energy Practice Group before joining OSU in the summer of 2007. He continues to work with the wind energy industry, helping landowners negotiate wind energy development agreements and assisting with the development of legislation for the industry.


Dr. Ferrell is currently an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics where he specializes in agricultural law and has presented more than 40 wind energy leasing seminars with a cumulative audience of over 6,000 as part of the energy education programming provided by OSU's Cooperative Extension Service.


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